Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M romance from Leta Blake. MR. FROSTY PANTS is the first book in the HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS series. This book features two estranged high school friends reconnecting unexpectedly–and revealing mutual their crushes.
When Casey Stevens went away to college four years ago, he ghosted on his straight best friend, Joel Vreeland. He hoped time and distance would lessen the unrequited affection he felt, but all it did was make him miss Joel more. Home for the holidays, Casey hopes they might find a way to be friends again. But Joel’s frosty reception reminds Casey of just how hard he had to fight to be Joel’s friend in the first place. It’s going to take a Christmas miracle to get past that cool façade again.
Joel isn’t as straight as Casey believes, and his years of pining for Casey have left him hurting and alone, caring for his abusive father and struggling to get by. Unable to trust anyone except his rescue dog—and with no reason to believe Casey is interested in him for more than a holiday fling—Joel’s icy heart might shatter before it can thaw.
Can Casey and Joel’s love overcome mistrust, parental rejection, class differences, and four long years apart?
Mr. Frosty Pants is a stand-alone, Christmas gay romance by Leta Blake featuring a virgin hero, childhood friends-to-lovers, second chance romance, and romantically steamy scenes.
I got to enjoy this story as an Audiobook–a few times.
Casey Stevens is a college senior who’s nearly finished his degree at NYU. He recently broke up with his longtime boyfriend–and is a little raw coming back to Knoxville for the first time since he left for college. Casey’s parents are wealthy and a bit snotty about it. They have accepted Casey’s sexuality, albeit reluctantly. It’s more that they want Casey to make a power match–if possible. And they really liked how wealthy his last boyfriend was. Casey has trouble not living up to his parents’ expectations, but he’s been in therapy to gain perspective, and he makes plans to complete his education if his dad cuts off his funding when he learns Casey isn’t planning to follow his career plan.
Reminiscing on his teen years, Casey is struck by his former attraction for Joel Vreeland, who he’d stubbornly clung to as a friend for years before moving away after coming out. They haven’t had any contact in four years, since Joel sent Casey an off-color text about his sexuality. Casey knew falling for a straight boy would hurt his heart, and he walled his hurt off for years. Now, when he runs into Joel in Knoxville, he’s stumped why Joel is so mean to him.
Joel Vreeland hasn’t had an easy life. His mom died when he was young, and his abusive, homophobic father has despised him ever since–suspecting Joel was gay despite never admitting his truth. A stroke has disabled his vile father, and Joel has sunk every spare dime he has into his dad’s nursing care and keeping their garden supply store open. Joel feels pretty self-conscious about his financial state, and his lack of friendships. He had longed for Casey back in high school, but knew his father would beat him senseless if he ever displayed any of his gay urges. He’s not afraid of that happening now, as his brutish father is so diminished, but he is still not eager to alienate himself from his only remaining family.
That said, Casey’s stubborn desire to reconnect has Joel confessing not only his sexuality, but also his inexperience–he’s a virgin–as well as his youthful crush on Casey.
I really enjoyed how these two work through past hurts and current animosities. There is a strong Christmas theme that runs throughout the story–lots of forgiveness and seeming miracles. Joel is a proud man, and he doesn’t want to reveal his near-destitute status to Casey. Casey can see how greatly Joel struggles. As his major focus has been marketing, Casey makes a publicity plan to help advertise Joel’s self-published novels. He declares his desire to rebrand Vreeland garden and hardware as a part of his senior project. Joel can’t turn down the help, not when he’s falling for Casey’s relentless pursuit–as more than just a holiday fling.
John Solo does a great job narrating this tender reconnection romance. The audiobook runs at about 10.5 hours and is paced at a speed I appreciated. Solo’s narrative emotion relayed Casey’s insecurities, and Joel’s raw grief over the shambles of his life. Casey realizes that his happiness had always been easier when he and Joel were close, and their budding romance has made him more fulfilled then ever. That’s true for Joel, too, and their nascent romance is building into a true love.
I really liked how they grew, even within the short time frame. I also enjoyed how each man built the other up, helping them each see past the misconceptions of their respective situations. This is the first book in the series, but we learn in the second book Casey and Joel are going stronger than ever, so expect a long-term happy ending.
About the Author:
Leta Blake is the author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.